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Biomimetic drug design for Covid-19
Post: 2021-03-12 09:55  View:120

The Ulm School of Design (HFG) significantly influenced industrial design worldwide. One of its guide principles isform follows function – a formula frequently used in bionic engineering. Observation of the hunt dynamics and rapid manoeuvering capacity (function) of predators was instructive in giving the form tobionicrobots. The credofor innovations in biomimetic drug design is quite the same: Define the desiredfunctions of a drug and identify the adequate natural compound or chemical formula. From the literature (1-3) it is clear that in order to fulfil its therapeutic functions and combat SARS-CoV-2,the optimal drug has to: (I) be a small molecule, (II) be hydrophobic, (III) bind to the viral envelope, (IV) bind tothe viral spikes, (V) oxidize the virus, (VI) scavenge reactive oxygen species(after oxidizingthe virus), (VII) enter the cells,(VIII) raise endosomal pH, (IX) have antibacterial-, (X)anti-inflammatory-, as well as (XI) immunomodulatory effects.

By studying diseases prevalent in ancient culturesand their medication (Fig. 1)– a rich source for bionic inspiration – we identified thymoquinone, a substance contained in the herb Nigella sativa, as the ideal model drug for Covid-19: Its properties/functionssatisfy the aspects I-XI. Clinical studies in Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, Pakistan and India confirmed the predictive capability of our model.


Fig. 1: Nigella sativa seeds were discovered in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Presumably, they were used to keep the malaria infection of the young Pharaoh at bay. Graphical content: courtesy Katlin E. Sommer.


1. Savarino A, Boelaert JR, Cassone A, et al. Effects of chloroquine on viralinfections: An old drug against today’s diseases? Lancet Infect Dis 2003;3:722–727.

2. Sommer AP, F?rsterling HD, Sommer KE. Tutankhamun's Antimalarial Drug for Covid-19. Drug Res (Stuttg) 2021;71:4–9.

3. Sommer AP, F?rsterling HD, Naber KG. Thymoquinone: Shield andsword against SARS-CoV-2. Precis Nanomed 2020;3:541–548.

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